The Tigers forced four turnovers and held Mineral Ridge to 5 yards rushing in a 26-7 win.
By GREG GULAS
NEW MIDDLETOWN -- Jonathan Vivo scored two touchdowns and the Springfield Local defense forced four Mineral Ridge turnovers, as the Tigers rolled to a 26-7 victory over the Rams in a key Inter-County League game Friday.
"This is truly a heated rivalry," Mineral Ridge coach Joe Stevens said. "Our big rival is McDonald, but this is becoming every bit as heated as our games with the Blue Devils."
The Tigers (4-2, 3-0 ICL) rolled to their fourth straight victory after two defeats to open the season, while the Rams (4-2, 2-1) saw their modest two-game win streak fall by the wayside.
Quarterback Dan Schuler threw two touchdown passes, one to Vivo, to also spark Springfield, before being sidelined the entire second half due to a concussion suffered prior to halftime.
"Our defensive coordinator, Eric Green, had an excellent game plan tonight," Springfield coach John Smith said. "We talk to our team about turnovers and sudden change, and tonight we were able to answer that challenge after forcing an enemy miscue."
Two errors lead to TDs
The Tiger defense forced four Ram turnovers -- three fumbles and an interception -- which led to two Tiger scores.
Vivo got the Tigers on the board first when he scored from a yard out with a little over two minutes remaining in the opening quarter. His run capped a four-play, 12-yard drive that came after an Adam Persing fumble recovery, giving Springfield Local a 7-0 lead heading into the second quarter.
The Tigers increased their lead to 14-0 when quarterback Dan Schuler found Vivo from 6 yards out at the 7:45 mark of the second frame. The drive was kept alive when the Rams were called for both a clipping and personal foul penalty.
"It seemed like we shot ourselves in the foot tonight when we were driving," Stevens said. "Dropped passes early in the game didn't help us either."
Schuler is injured
Schuler then found Seth Sarty from 20 yards out with a little over two minutes remaining in the second period, as the Tigers increased their lead to 20-0 at halftime.
"When we knew that Schuler would not return, we placed our confidence in the hands of our offensive line and hoped that they would carry us in the second half," Smith noted. "After intermission, we just wanted to play in much the same manner that we did the first half."
Shawn Shoemaker, punting for the injured Schuler, failed to complete a pass after a high snap on the Tigers' first series of the second half, which allowed the Rams to begin their initial possession on the Springfield Local 30-yard line.
Quarterback Chris Ault (18 of 30 for 213 yards on the night with one touchdown and an interception) then found wide receiver Brandon Linert open from 20 yards out, as the Rams cut the Tiger lead to 20-7 midway through the third period.
"Chris Ault is a gamer," Stevens said of his quarterback "He comes to play every game but was especially ready tonight."
Mason McCambridge, a sophomore, filled in admirably at quarterback when Schuler went to the sideline. He capped off the scoring on the night by waltzing into the end zone from a yard out with just 10 seconds remaining.
Tiger defense tough
The Tigers had 269 total offensive yards, 171 on the ground (on 49 totes) and 98 through the air (Schuler was six of 10, accounting for all 98 yards and both passing touchdowns), while the stingy Springfield Local defense held the Ram rushing game to a paltry 5 yards on 14 carries and 218 total offensive yards.
Brandon Linert caught eight of Ault's 18 completions for 103 yards, including the lone score for the Rams on the night. Ault also had an interception as well.